Topology of the conceptual network of language

Adilson E. Motter, Alessandro P S De Moura, Ying-Cheng Lai, Partha Dasgupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

355 Scopus citations


We define two words in a language to be connected if they express similar concepts. The network of connections among the many thousands of words that make up a language is important not only for the study of the structure and evolution of languages, but also for cognitive science. We study this issue quantitatively, by mapping out the conceptual network of the English language, with the connections being defined by the entries in a Thesaurus dictionary. We find that this network presents a small-world structure, with an amazingly small average shortest path, and appears to exhibit an asymptotic scale-free feature with algebraic connectivity distribution.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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